November 20, 2009
It was about two years ago, not long after SureShot started sleeping on the couch in my living room when his marriage broke up once and for all. He had found someone new, we'll call her N., back at his hometown, way off in the deep dark south of Germany, even though he thought he had turned away from home forever. And it was good, very good, he couldn't stop raving about her. It was giving him a new lease on life just when everything seemed desolate and cruel. At the time, neither one of us knew whether it would be just a romance on the rebound, a flight to comfort while the rest of his world was crashing down around him, a way to feel like a geiler Typ again, rather than a failure at everything that mattered. If that's what it was, I told him, then it made sense, it was just what he needed. But he could already tell that the relationship might have staying power, and he was willing to do what he could to make it last (and it has). I let him keep talking, egged him on, told him to soak himself up in it, take his shot at good luck and run with it.
One night he was telling me about his last visit with N., showing me pictures on his mobile that were getting increasingly racy. "You won't believe what she was doing," he gushed, "listen to this ...", and I started to recognize which way this was going. He was gathering momentum, pretty soon nothing be able to stop him.
"Whoa, whoa," I broke in, "wait a minute, don't tell me everything you're doing with your girlfriend!"
He looked back at me skeptically. "Why? We know we can trust each other. Why does there have to be something we can't talk about? Does there have to be something sacred?"
Gentle Reader, I know what you're thinking: of course there should be something sacred in a relationship, things you don't talk about with others, especially what happens in the bedroom. What the hell is this, two guys getting an adolescent thrill over stories out of their sex lives? But take a moment with me, because this question made sense. He was right, we did know we could trust each other. We had been good friends for years and had already related many of our closest secrets; neither one of us would be considering such a thing with anybody else. For years I had been a first-hand witness to the conflicts in his marriage, sometimes right there in their living room while they were having it out, and both of them had turned to me at times to talk about it. (Not that I could help much; I admonished them to stay together, giving them the example of my own ruined marriage and all the attendant misery as a cautionary tale. Looking back now and considering everything that happened, my efforts at the time make me feel a little ridiculous.) He wasn't asking about just telling me a raunchy story. He had been sharing the exhilaration of the new relationship, as I'd been encouraging him, and this was a part of it, no different in his mind from any other part.
I considered what he said, but I didn't change my mind. For one thing, I assumed that N. had not said a thing about whether I should be hearing any of this, and that mattered. He knew he could trust me, but how could she? But there was something even more important than that.
"If it's really as magical as you say it is, then let there be a part of it that's sacred. Let there be a place that only belongs to the two of you. I'm not just talking about the obvious thing. Two people together have thousands of little moments that no else knows or understands, words they use and ways of saying things to each other, ideas that you share, music that you listen to together and the emotions that go with it, the different ways you look at each other, it could be anything. So let that be your sacred world, where only the two of you go, and no one else has to know anything about it, even friends you know you can trust with everything."
That got him thinking, but he still wasn't entirely convinced. "The best part is how real it all is, it's not like something from another world, not something sacred." I think this might have sounded too much like an musty old idea out of the church, too exalted and sterile, just too boring, when the real thing happened to be alive and natural and exciting. And the idea that he'd be keeping certain things secret from me still didn't make sense to him.
"It'll just be a game that you play," I said, "a little ceremony that you perform to pick things out as special. We do that all the time, going through rituals just for the point of making something feel more meaningful. If the magic is there, then just by playing it up you'll make it seem more magical. Give yourselves a sacred place, and it will be sacred, because the two of you make it that way."
He was looking at me intently, slowly nodding his head. He was buying into it.
I don't know which one of us came up with the word, but this has become what the two of us have been calling The Temple. The Temple is their hallowed ground together, and N. is his goddess. We've been talking about the Temple ever since, and while I don't know anything about it and never will, I can tell that it lives up to the name. The Temple is everything we thought it would be that night. Now, nearly two years later, N. is in Hamburg visiting SureShot (who has had his own place for a year and a half now, after his stint in my living room). They are, I presume, somewhere in their Temple at this very moment, and only they know what's going on. N. has plans to move to Hamburg as soon as she can find a job. Before long the god and goddess will be together in their Temple, every day, really right next to each other and not just in imaginations that they have to stretch across the country.
The other night I was over at SureShot's place, the night before N. arrived. "You want to be Eminem, don't you?", I said to him, "you want be outraged at everyone, offend everyone, fistfuck the world."
Yes, he did. He'd been fistfucked by more than enough in his life, in his family and his job, and he wanted to fistfuck the world back.
"All right, then," I said, "then let the rage be a part of what you have to say. The outrage fuels the passion, so let it out. But that doesn't have to be all of it. Instead of just tearing everything else down, tell us how you would build everything back up. Tell us about a world where you and everyone else isn't getting fistfucked all the time. What's that world like?"
Tell us about the Temple, SureShot.